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Stand Together Podcast: Introducing Our Hosts and Themes

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Stand Together Podcast: Introducing Our Hosts and Themes

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The Stand Together Podcast is a podcast for people who care about tackling the biggest challenges facing our country, exploring the origins of philanthropy, the challenges and opportunities facing community organizations, and the experiences of nonprofit leaders across the country. Click here to learn more and subscribe on your platform of choice. 

This episode and the following transcript were originally published by Stand Together Foundation.


Obi Okolo

Hey listeners. I’m Obiekwe Okolo, one of the executive producers of the Stand Together Podcast. And this is the last time you’ll hear my voice. I know I’m not the person you’re here to listen to, and I’m not offended. Those folks are right here, and I’ll let them in in just a second. But first I wanted to take a minute to frame this pilot season. 

Our mission, which we chose to accept, is to present you a section cut of the most inspiring, disruptive, and innovative work being done by hundreds of incredible social entrepreneurs, all over the country, in only 14 episodes. A tall order, we know. So here’s how we’re gonna play it out. 

In this first season, we’ll present you with four different episode types: A Brief History of Good, Paradigms, Principles, and Perspectives. Get it? It’s a show-within-a-show. Why on earth would we do that? 

Well, for you, our listener. We want to paint as full a picture as possible of our modern American social sector. And we know that picture can’t be painted with just one brush, one color, or even one canvas. So to test out what works best, we’re painting with four different palettes that will reveal a social sector from its humble origin, to its present state, and toward a future where every person is empowered. 

I’ll let our hosts tell you what those will sound like in a second. But first, I’ve got one favor to ask. And I know we just met, so please forgive me. As we embark on this experiment, we hope you’ll engage. Tell us what you love, what you want to know more of. Rate, review, and ask all the questions. Your input will be critical in helping us shape this Stand Together Podcast community. 

Okay, that’s it for me. Thank you in advance for listening and being part of this movement to break cycles of poverty in America. And now, without further ado, your esteemed hosts for the Stand Together Podcast.

Evan Feinberg

Hey listeners. My name is Evan Feinberg, Executive Director of Stand Together Foundation, and one of your hosts for the Stand Together Podcast. Every time you hear my voice in the show, we’ll either be talking about the history of the social sector or paradigms that are shifting within it.

While I’d like to fancy myself an expert on the history of philanthropy, in reality, I’m really a good student at best. One who loves to opine on how where we’ve been continues to affect where we’re going as a social sector. But fortunately, I’ll be joined by a great friend, Becky Endicott of the We Are For Good Podcast, who is something much more akin to an expert on the subject. 

Together, we’ll attempt to present you a 10,000-foot view of philanthropy past and present, as we all look to a better future. This is called A Brief History of Good. We’re gonna go back in American history and really talk about how philanthropy and the social sector has really evolved in our country over the last few hundred years. I think our listeners are in for a treat on how we’re going to take this history lesson on the brief history of good and turn it into a discussion about how these paradigms can shape how people think about non-profit work more broadly.

In this episode type, Paradigms, we’ll be unpacking some of the broken paradigms that exist in philanthropy, and exploring some necessary shifts in that vision. Paradigms of not believing in people, and not believing that they’re capable of transformation, and therefore just making poverty and social barriers easier to endure…and this different and new paradigm, that we can empower people by believing in their ability to transform, and helping them to tap into their gifts and talents to fully contribute. I’ll be joined by some of my friends, esteemed colleagues, and brilliant thought leaders in this sector. I hope you’ll join us.

Jeff Proctor

Well, Ski, we’re the principles guys. 

Ski Ahmad

Of course I am. 

Jeff Proctor

Yeah, I’m assuming that’s because we are just the two people in this entire community who fully and completely embrace all of the principles of human progress. But assuming it’s not that… [laughs]

Ski Ahmad

Speak for yourself.

Jeff Proctor

What are we going for here? What’s the Principles section of this podcast really about?

Ski Ahmad

Man, tough question. I don’t know. I think we gotta just try to figure out how to unpack these principles and define them a bit, and get some real life examples for our listeners to kind of hear these principles in action.

Jeff Proctor

One thing that comes up a lot in conversations about principles is, “What’s the opposite?” And one way to think about it is maybe being a little bit more rule-based, right? So the attraction to being rule-based is, “If I have a clear rule, I know exactly what to do. 100%, I follow the rule.”

And so, let’s say I have two principles: love and respect. And I say, “Every day, I wanna make sure I treat Ski with love and respect.” That doesn’t tell me exactly what to do in every situation, right? But what that means is, I don’t need a rule. 

Ski Ahmad


Jeff Proctor

Like I have my “how do I treat Ski at lunch” rules, or “how do I treat Ski in meetings” rules. I don’t need those. 

Ski Ahmad

Oh, I thought you did! [laughs]

Jeff Proctor

Well, it’s more poetry really than rules, I think. 

But I get to benefit from saying, “Hey, if I am committed to the application of these principles in all contexts, I don’t need a big long list of rules about how I interact with you.”

Ski Ahmad

Yeah. Well, I actually think as much as many of us—and I would say myself included—grew up probably in a more rules-based world. I think as humans we all crave simplicity, and want things to be a bit more simple, less complex…

Many folks like to take shortcuts. And I don’t mean that purely in the negative sense, but just kind of: “Hey, if, if I can be more efficient to get things done, make it easier…” Well, to your point, I actually think having a clear set of principles by which you live actually is pretty simple, because I have this core set of principles that I live by. 

Now, the application of those principles day in and day out is hard. And that’s where there’s a lot of effort that comes in, but it’s fairly simple to have a set of core principles that’s guiding your everyday actions. So the great thing for what we’re gonna be talking about is, we’re gonna be talking with three great leaders that have these principles at the core of who they are. So therefore, as they look to lead their respective organizations, we will likely see all these principles playing out throughout the balance of their organizations, that then spills out into the work that they do for the communities that they serve.

Jeff Proctor

So there are dozens of principles of human progress that we focus on at Stand Together. But Ski and I have picked three that we’re gonna try to bring to the table in this podcast. We’re gonna talk about “bottom-up”: the idea that some of the most important solutions to social problems emerge from the behaviors of thousands and thousands of people. We’re gonna talk about “dignity”: the idea that each person has inherent moral worth. And then we’ll close our section with “self-actualization”: talking about the importance of each and every person being able to identify and ultimately reach their own potential. 

So Ski, if we’re effective here with this podcast, we’re gonna hopefully attract a bunch of leaders who are really excited to apply these principles in ways that change the way their organizations function on a day-to-day basis. And that change will help transform communities across the country, consistent with the principles of progress.

Ski Ahmad

I can’t wait.

Ty Spells

Hi, I’m Ty Spells, and I’m hosting a podcast on Perspectives.

Really, at the end of the day, my job is about allowing individuals to believe in themselves as well as the power of their story. You are going to meet three wonderful individuals whose stories are so powerful and inspiring. 

You’ll get to connect with Kaylee, who navigated addiction by not wrestling with isolation, or leaning solely on drugs, but she leaned in on community through the Phoenix. Then we’ll get to meet with JJ Valesquez, who was wrongfully incarcerated for over 20 years. When most would be angry and frustrated, and want to just get back at this world that locked him into a system, he connected with his purpose and then also helped others to define what their purpose was—truly being an example of not believing in systems, but believing in people. 

And then, lastly, you will get to meet Doris, who, when you hear her story—what would usually break one person or many people—she has found strength in that. She is a survivor. She is the true epitome of what perseverance looks like. Her understanding of grace, determination, and that love truly heals, will just blow your mind. She did that all by getting connected to who she was as a person, as well as walking in that gift at Thistle Farms. I just am super excited about amplifying these great, wonderful stories and these wonderful individuals.

You should listen to Perspectives because you’re gonna hear from three individuals that help us reimagine what change could look like when we stop believing in a system, but start investing in people. Perspectives gets personal.


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